Galaxy S10 showing off Google DuplexSource: Android Central

What you need to know

  • Google's Duplex is a software tool that helps with booking appointments through the Assistant.
  • Google promised to roll out support for barbershops and hairstylists back in 2018.
  • Now it's finally rolled out, as per a new report.

All the way back in 2018, Google announced Google Duplex — a tool that allowed the Google Assistant to call and book appointments for you in restaurants and barbershops.It was billed as an AI tool "for accomplishing real-world Tasks over the phone." Since then, Google focused Duplex on restaurants and stock check-ins, but barbershops fell far behind on the list of priorities. Now, the company has started rolling out support for barbershops in the U.S. again, as reported by VentureBeat today. It's not clear when the rollout was initiated, only that it's finally here.

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You'll now be able to have the Assistant use Duplex to call a barbershop or hairstylist and set up an appointment for you with your preferred treatment options and availability.

Android Central's Jerry Hildenbrand explained the power and usefulness of Google's Duplex technology back in 2018 when it first launched:

The goal for Duplex is to make things sound natural and for Assistant to think on the fly to find an appointment time that works. If Joe says, "Yeah, about that — I don't have anything open until 10, is that OK?" Assistant needs to understand what Joe is saying, figure out what that means, and think if what Joe is offering will work for you. If you're busy across town at 10 and it will take 40 minutes to drive to Joe's Garage, Assistant needs to be able to figure that out and say 11:15 would be good.

Equally important for Google is that Duplex answers and sounds like a person. Google has said it wanted the person on the phone not to know they were talking to a computer, though eventually decided it would be best to inform them. When we talk to people, we talk faster and less formal (read: incoherent babbling from a computer's point of view) than when we're talking to Assistant on our phone or the computer at the DMV when we call in. Duplex needs to understand this and recreate it when replying.

Finally, and most impressive, is that Duplex has to understand context. Friday, next Friday, and Friday after next week are all terms you and I understand. Duplex needs to understand them, too. If we talked the same way we type this wouldn't be an issue, but we umm you know don't because it sounds just sounds so stuffy yeah it's not like confusing though we have heard it all our lives and are used to it so no we don't have problems you know understanding it or nothing like that.

Duplex will soon go further than that in the near future. On the Google Pixel 5 and 4a 5G, Google has announced a feature called Hold For Me where Google will help you ignore all those long waiting moments you experience on support calls. That will roll out later this year.

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